The managers of our massive federal bureaucracy have not given up on trying to convince Americans that even the slightest of spending cuts will have a devastating impact on the lives of its citizens. Furloughs for air traffic controllers kicked in this weekend, and Federal Aviation Administration heads warned Friday that air travelers will see flights delayed for hours. Here's what they said on Friday, according to the Associated Press:
In the most extreme case, the furloughs could delay flights up to 210 minutes at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, depending upon the time of day and other factors. The FAA said, however, that the average delay will be far less, about 11 minutes.
Other airports for which officials provided delay estimates include Newark, N.J., with maximum delays of 51 minutes and average delays of about 20 minutes; John F. Kennedy in New York, with maximum delays of 50 minutes and average 12 minutes; LaGuardia in New York, with maximum delays of 80 minutes and average 30 minutes; Los Angeles International, with maximum delays of 67 minutes, and average 10 minutes, and Chicago's O'Hare, with maximum delays of 132 minutes, average 50 minutes.
Here's what air travel actually looks like today, according to the Chicago Tribune:
The only delays of more than 30 minutes were seen at Washington Reagan National in D.C. and New York's LaGuardia Airport, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. Delays at those airports, heavily trafficked by business travelers, tend to ripple throughout the country. Although as of 9 a.m., there were no delays in the U.S. of more than an hour.
Monday's clear skies were helping quell some weekend delays. Los Angeles International reported nearly a two-hour delay late Sunday night, and Newark Liberty International reported 28-minute delays, though the FAA could not confirm whether those were related to the staff cuts. Delays of up to 58 minutes in San Francisco and 29 minutes in Orlando, Florida, were due to construction and weather, the FAA said.
Of course, it's still relatively early and the delays may not just rack up immediately, the FAA is warning:
The FAA has warned that it will issue ground stops, which are orders preventing flights from taking off to certain destinations and airspace flow programs that restrict the number of planes on flight corridors. Both are tools to control capacity and maintain a high level of safety, officials said. They are customarily used during severe weather to slow down the air traffic system.
But now the procedures will be activated as the result of empty seats in airport control towers and at radar screens at FAA facilities that handle low-altitude traffic near major metropolitan areas as well as en route centers that manage high-altitude traffic traversing the national airspace, officials said.
The Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes Reason.com and Reason magazine) makes the case for consolidating air traffic control facilities here.